When Prog Loses its Rock

I’ve been struggling more than usual lately when trying to get into a lot of the music that has been submitted for review to this site. I was beginning to think that either my taste is getting more and more specific or that maybe I am tired of prog. I just was getting more and more bored with things that I was listening to. That does not mean everything however.

So I started to think about what the difference was between the music that I wanted to listen to and/or review versus the music that I find boring as fuck. It turns out it rather easy to explain. The music that bores me doesn’t ROCK. No that does not mean it has to be metal. Last I checked bands like Yes and King Crimson rock as hard as any prog metal band. So what’s the issue?

Somewhere along the line, prog was able to detach itself from rock. It’s called progressive rock when bands like Yes play it. But then in the early 80s bands emulated old Genesis but while some still rocked (IQ, Marillion, Pallas), others watered prog rock down to become easier to listen to. Neo prog was born and while I do like some neo prog (the bands mentioned), much of it does not rock. It’s bland and calculated.


IQ: They keep the ROCK in prog rock!

Neo prog is an excuse to not rock out. It’s prog for people who like to claim they like prog but don’t want to actually be challenged by the music they listen to. Once that happens, you open the door for bands that are based more in classical than rock. I know prog owes a HUGE debt to classical music BUT it’s still fucking rock music. People love bands like Beatrix Players and Iamthemorning but for me, they are so damn boring and safe. It’s not far from elevator music.


Beatrix Players: Elevator music for your snobby side

If your first reaction is “oh that’s nice,” fuck all of that! Prog is supposed to challenge you and at the same time get you moving. If it doesn’t, I have no time for it. And there is A LOT of that bland shit out there. There are entire internet radio shows that claim to be prog rock shows and just shit out hours of dull, pretentious neo-prog. No risks, no actual adventure. “Oh but it’s a concept album with dialogue!” Yeah and the music is as interesting as the shitty concept you’ve dressed it up in.


Gandalf’s Fist’s “The Clockwork Fable”: More dialogue, less rock.

This epiphany has felt good. It turns out that I still love the same music I always have. I’ve been able to quantify the reasons that I hate certain types of music. If you are into the music that I’ve taken a giant shit on, that’s totally fine. There are a ton of sites dedicated to all of that. This planet spins in a different direction than those. You might not agree with what I love but if you do, welcome to the Progressive Music Planet.

About Rob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music...progressive music!
This entry was posted in progressive metal, progressive rock and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to When Prog Loses its Rock

  1. loubreed says:

    Oh, man. Where I’m from EVERY music genre suffers from this problem, not just prog. Ukrainian music scene is highly derivative and entirely dedicated to playing it safe (So is russian, for that matter, only on significantly bigger scale). Point being, you don’t know what is real suffering until you’ve subjected yourself to sitting through an album of Ukrainian art-rock band (insert any other genre. There are a few exceptions, mostly in the most extreme genres of metal, but I rarely venture into that territory).
    That being said, I do see your point. I actually don’t dig early Pallas albums (and maybe also their last one) for this reason. It feels more like glorified synth-pop than prog rock to me. Their modern output is mostly great though and they’re able to pull off a concept without sacrificing the music.

    All in all, a good rant, I’d like to see more posts like this;)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. drjeffwelsh says:

    Soundcloud.com/NinthChoir – does this Prog rock?


  3. Steven LeBlanc says:

    I agree. Progressive Rock (I’ve never liked “Prog”) has to rock, and do more than rock. I hate to pick on Gandalf’s Fist; I’ve listened to it only once, but I was disappointed by their latest record for not rocking enough. There are other bands I like, and I have had similar feelings about, like the latest Dream Theatre. Too much keyboards, not enough guitar. I don’t know why—again I’ve only listened to it once—but I was disappointed by the new Threshold album. Maybe for this reason, I don’t know.


  4. Jeff says:

    The Threshold album is great. Gandalf’s Fist I cannot get into due to the huge amount of dialogue on that last album. I love some dialogue done well, or some samples with atmospheric music in the background, but there is just too much talking with a story along with each music track.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thom D. says:

    To be fair, the new Gandalf’s Fist has approximately 140 minutes of music and 50 of dialogue. That’s 180% more music.


    • progmanrob says:

      I’ll take quality over quantity every time.


    • Jeff says:

      It is still one dialogue track for every music track. Why can’t the music tell a story? Concept albums are my favorite, but I have no desire to even listen to it one time. The Astonishing may be too long, but I would take it over The Clockwork Fable. Usually Bandcamp + prog is autobuy for me, but I have been avoiding them due to that one album. For me to ever consider buying a Gandalf’s Fist album, The Clockwork Fable would either need to be removed from their catalog of music, or redone where the original is completely removed from their catalog. When I mean redone, I mean 50 minutes of talking down to 5 minutes of talking and let the music tell the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. C. Anson says:

    What you said is very truthful. To further add to it; how sad is it when a band is indeed rocking out but since their mix is exactly the same smooth digital gobbly-gook that was presented on their last album, it just sounds like creative noise. No heart, no soul, no direction except trying to get to the end. Yes knew how to relax, how to take their time, but would also wake you up with wow moments, and sadly I do speak of how they used to. Davison, please don’t contribute anything again. DT is continually on rerun and everyone slobbers over Morse but it seems one engineer is doing everyone’s mixing. Thanks Yes for many albums of different sounds, wish others could follow. I could be spoiled and old also.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Jeff Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s